Kobe Bryant, 39, hasn’t played in the NBA since 2016, but ever since LeBron James, 33, joined the Los Angeles Lakers, there has been a buzz about Black Mamba returning to the court to play alongside the King. Though Kobe’s wife, Vanessa Laine Bryant, 36, has shut down the talk of him coming out of retirement, King James thinks Kobe could still go. “LeBron is convinced Kobe could return and play again for the Lakers,” a source close to the NBA star EXCLUSIVELY tells HollywoodLife.com. “LeBron feels like despite what Kobe or his wife have said publicly, when the time comes, anything is possible.”
“LeBron hopes to make a run at the playoffs next season with the Lakers,” the insider tells HollywoodLife.com, “and he feels like Kobe is still strong enough to ball in the league. LeBron feels that Kobe is one of the greatest players ever and could still contribute.” The insider adds that as the 2018-19 NBA season gets closer, LeBron hopes that Kobe will “get caught up in the Laker excitement and return to play, or at least contribute on the sidelines somehow.”
Supposedly, LeBron isn’t the only NBA icon who’s pushing for a Kobe comeback. Shaquille O’Neal on the Aug. 1 episode of The BIG Podcast with Shaq, expanded on his comments to TMZ (“Kobe’s coming back, I heard. Kobe coming back…you heard it here first.”) “I know all the parties involved,” Shaq said. “Let’s talk about the Lakers parties. There’s already excitement with LeBron coming here. I don’t know how ticket sales are – boom, boom, boom. But if you make that announcement – ooooh – the Kobe jerseys and LeBron jerseys, side by side – a little package. It’ll explode. Right?”
“And now on Kobe’s side, ‘Kobe, we love you. We need you to lead. We need you to play 10, 15, 20 minutes a game. You play third, fourth quarter, we’ll let you do what you do, you and LeBron out there. LeBron running and kicking with you, and all you have to do is spot up and shoot jumpers 20 minutes a game.’ Kobe will think about that.”
Kobe may have to think – about whether or not he’s going to order a mojito or a margarita next. His wife posted a video of her on vacation, but Lakers fans flooded the comments section with questions about Kobe coming out of retirement. “He doesn’t want to play again and frankly we really enjoy spending time together as a family without the crazy game schedule interfering with birthdays, holidays and special events,” Vanessa said, effectively shutting that down. LeBron, Shaq and the rest of the Laker nation will have to just play through their disappointment.